96: Tuesdays with Daddy

96: Tuesdays with Daddy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

Tuesdays with Daddy

When you look at your life,
the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.

~Joyce Brothers

Many Tuesday mornings, I have coffee with my father. While my mom is at her exercise class, I often stop by my parents’ house on my way to work and have a shot of caffeine while my dad relaxes at the kitchen table with his breakfast and his Sudoku puzzle of the day.

Although my father is a man of few words, I really enjoy this time alone with him. Typically, I talk and he listens. Nonetheless, it’s quality bonding.

One recent Tuesday, I called my dad to see if I could stop by for a brief schmooze. While I found it a bit unusual when he didn’t answer the phone, I assumed he was probably in the shower. Figuring that he would still have time for me, I pulled into his driveway. Yet when I rang the doorbell, no one seemed to be home. I peeked in through the window, noticing the lights that shone from the kitchen, and decided that my dad must be there. He never left lights on when he went out. My dad was, after all, a creature of habit.

I let myself in and called out to my dad.

Silence.

I hurried through his home, checking every room, my pulse quickening as I did so. What if he was hurt? What if I found him lying unconscious on the floor? I tried not to panic. Yet, something just didn’t seem right to me.

Upstairs. Downstairs. Still, no Dad anywhere.

I called his cell phone, and heard it ring from the office down the hall.

I ran to the garage, only to discover that his car was still parked in its usual spot. However, the garage door was up and the door from the garage to the laundry room was unlocked. Where would my dad go without his car and why would he leave the house so vulnerable to intruders? Suddenly, I was slightly more than worried. After all, my father was seventy-one years old. Anything could have happened to him. I closed and locked the garage door.

Then, I got in my car and drove to my mother’s aerobics class.

On the short drive, I thought a lot about my father and our history together. Suddenly, I was three years old and he was holding me up to the living room window to see the Christmas lights that I loved so much. In his arms, I was safe and secure.

Before long, I was six or seven, and we were at Target, buying cinnamon rolls from the bakery. Cinnamon rolls were always a favorite of my dad’s. At age ten, I used to make them from scratch and wake him up with warm breakfast in bed. Those were the days when I felt happy and loved.

Then I was twelve and my dad was amazing all the kids at my birthday party with his magic tricks. Little did we know that his magic was simply basic chemical reactions that my father had learned while getting his Ph.D. in Chemistry. I was so proud of my father for being so special and talented. He’d made my party an incredible success.

When my father taught me to drive, we grew closer despite his frequent stern words. Even when I had my first accident backing into a fire hydrant, I loved my father for being there to make me feel protected.

It was my dad who sat patiently by my side for hours on end helping me with Geometry, and Calculus, and eventually Organic Chemistry. I often thought that my A’s in those classes actually belonged to him. He was always willing to help me and made sure I understood what I was supposed to be learning. I could only hope to have half the brains and teaching ability that my father possessed.

When I applied to medical school, my father drove me to my interview in Kansas City. For four hours in the car, he talked to me about the questions he thought I would be asked. He prepped me and quizzed me and helped me formulate my answers. When the interviewers asked me almost every question my father had prepared me for, I was beaming with pride at both my answers and the foresight of the man who had raised me.

As my father walked me down the aisle at my wedding, I tried to look away so as not to show him my tears and not to see his. And when he held my firstborn daughter when she was only minutes old, I thanked God that my dad would be there for her as he had been for me. I was so thankful to my dad for everything he’d taught me and for all the times he’d been there for me. I just couldn’t imagine life without him by my side.

And so, as I entered my mother’s class, I was anxious and nervous, and a bit overwhelmed from all of my memories. My mom looked at me with happy surprise as she saw me enter the room.

“Mom, where’s Dad?” I began hesitantly. “I think he’s missing.”

“He’s working in the yard on the side of the house!” she answered between sit-ups.

“Oops!” I giggled. “I’d better go back. I think I’ve locked him out!” And I hurried to my car and raced back to my parents’ house.

When I arrived there a few minutes later, my dad was obliviously trimming bushes.

“Hey, Dad!” I yelled out and promptly told him about my fears of the last half hour.

My dad began laughing his typical laugh that was always familiar and comforting and promised that he wasn’t planning on dying any time soon.

I was so thankful that I still had my daddy. He would still be there for me as he always had been.

And so, as I unlocked the door to my father’s house, we went inside for our usual cup of coffee and a huge sigh of relief.

Thanks, Daddy, for all the memories and more importantly, for all your love.

~Sharon Dunski Vermont

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